Friday, 26 December 2014

All The Way

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years!  Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Thomas Hardy

There's a nice discussion of this poem, written by Hardy during WW1, by Adam Newey of the Guardian  here.  Somehow, the fact that it was composed in 1915, when disillusion with the war had begun to set in, and the casualties to mount, adds another layer of depth.

On a different but not unrelated seasonal note, here's one of my favourite Wondermark strips, from 2011:

The current one is pretty good, too.  To get it, you'll have to have heard "Winter Wonderland" enough times without blocking your ears or screaming to know the lyrics intimately...  A Big Ask, I know.